Judicial dissent in collegial courts: theory and evidence

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In collegial courts, disagreements are inevitable. Are these disagreements advantageous or disadvantageous for lawmaking? Why, when, and how do judges decide to disagree with each other? The literature about collegial courts includes extensive normative and positive theories about separate opinions as well as how these kinds of decisions are made. Scholars offer different explanations based on distinct frameworks: a cost–benefit analysis (within rational-choice theory), the principal–agent model, and via legal culture. By considering the complexity of separate opinions in style, substance, collegiality, and frequency, it is possible to find compromises between both (normative and positive) strains of the literature. These compromises reflect a fundamental divergence between private (individual) and social motivations to promote separate opinions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford research encyclopedia of politics
EditorsWilliam R. Thompson
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780190228637
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2022


  • Collegial courts
  • Separate opinions
  • Positive theories
  • Normative theories
  • Judicial dissent


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